Wednesday, 23 December 2009
Christmas Preparations On Hold...
I'm not very successful when it comes to preparing for Christmas - preparing in the physical sense, that is. While I enjoy shopping, I do not enjoy food shopping, or shopping when I have absolutely no idea what I want to buy, and I loathe large crowds.
So Christmas shopping is particularly irksome, especially when trying to buy presents for male relatives. As a result, I always leave Christmas shopping until the last minute, because I keep hoping for inspiration... or, at least, a few clues from the male relatives' spouses!
I had planned to go shopping today as it was payday. I got up early, did some chores, and then went to collect some dry cleaning. I attempted to pay for it using my debit card. Ooops. No dice. Card declined.
Now, I knew that today was payday. I had received the payslip on Monday. So I rang my bank. After waiting for over half an hour, I was told that the BACS system had crashed overnight, and so there was a delay in crediting accounts. No idea when the late credits would be completed, though it was guaranteed for later in the day. How much later? Would the shops still be open? No idea. No offer of help.
My planned shopping trip had to be put on hold - luckily I hadn't gone all the way to Bluewater before finding out that there was no money in my account. I kept ringing the bank to check my balance, just in case I could still get to the shops.
In the meantime, being stuck at home, I settled down to finish writing my Christmas cards (every cloud has a silver lining!) Finally, at 2pm, the money went through. I immediately scooted out back to the dry cleaners, the bank, the post office, the chemist... and then it was time for my appointment with the hairdresser, so no chance to get to Bluewater.
For me it was just mildly inconvenient - after all, I can go shopping in Bluewater tomorrow (though shopping on Christmas Eve must surely count as a penance, if not as grounds for sectioning under the Mental Health Act!) But I feel sorry for the people who have had shopping orders and delivery times (organised weeks in advance) cancelled because payments didn't get through in time.
The banks are very quick to charge customers who go into the red, through no fault of their own, because an expected payment was delayed, perhaps by no more than a day. It will be interesting to see what compensation will be offered to customers adversely affected by this error. I won't be holding my breath! I will, however, be considering whether I want to stay with Abbey/Santander in the New Year...